15 November 2012

Uganda: Power Theft - a Village Illegally Connected

An entire village called Mayangayanga in the central district of Mukono was illegally connected to the national power grid through a thin copper wire, power distributor Umeme discovered in a recent operation.

Residents abandoned their homes when word went around that Umeme officials had stormed their village in a crackdown on illegal power connections. Some Umeme officials were left in fits of laughter as some villagers pulled saucepans of porridge off charcoal stoves and fled leaving the houses open, in a bid to escape arrest.

The Area Umeme Branch Manager Ian Namanya said they discovered the village had been connected to a one Mathias Ssemakula's house in Mayangayanga through a thin copper wire.

"This connection is very dangerous and the entire village could be in trouble if they suffer an electric short circuit. We need to extensively investigate this matter and bring the culprits to book," Namanya said.

Fred Kiwalabye, one of the culprits said they had been paying Shs 10,000 to Ssemakula for the connection. Umeme officials were stunned to learn that despite the monthly payments to Ssemakula, his official monthly Umeme billing came down to only Shs 20,000.

Umeme Corporate Communication Manager Charlotte Kemigisha says the operation will continue till power theft is weeded out.

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